Tag Archives: Rolling Stone

DAILY DRIVEL — Singin’ the Blues About RS’ Latest List?

Now that the election’s over and their Main Man Barack O’Bama ‘s won, Rolling Stone can get back to what it’s supposed to do best — cover music.

The new issue includes one of their inimitable lists: The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

Not "The 100 Greatest Rock Singers of All Time," or "The 100 Greatest Singers of the Second Half of the 20th Century ," but the greatest of all time.

Whew. That’s a tall order, just like some of their previous lits — best bands, best albums, best songs.

They’re exhaustive lists, to be sure, and the folks RS employed to help put it together certainly pack the necessary cred. But this kind of list, however exhaustive, never can be comprehensive. It’s a lot of words, but it’s not the last word.

Instead, it’s to ponder, to pick apart, to argue over. And mostly, it’s to try and figure out who was left off.

In this case, the omissions are glaring. I’ve got no problem with almost everybody who made the list, but judging from some of the omissions I came up with, off the top of my head and in just a few minutes while I was waiting for my "SO EASY EVEN A HOWLER MONKEY CAN DO IT" software to load, some of the judges did (or are still doing) a lot of drugs during their careers.

RS’ top 10 (in order): Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Elvis, Sam Cooke, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder and James Brown.

Some good pipes there, and some wonderfully evocative, expressive interpreters, both of their own and others’ work.

Just for fun, though, here’s 10 (rendered alphabetically) of People Who Were Left Off:

Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton, Chris Cornell, Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Lou Gramm (Foreigner), Chrissie Hynde (the Pretenders), Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), Ann Wilson (Heart)

Want another 10?

Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Sir Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), Elvis Costello, Ray Davies (The Kinks), Peter Gabriel, George Harrison, Richie Havens, Billy Preston, Layne Staley, Levi Stubbs (The Four Tops)

And if we’re really talking about the greatest singers of all time, where’s Sinatra? Where’s Pavarotti, Sutherland, Piaf, Carreras, Kathleen Battle, Placido Domingo … where’s Belafonte? Where’s Bing?

If Neil Young (37) can be on the list, why can’t David Crosby, Stephen Stills or Graham Nash?

And where in the name of all that is good and decent is the late, lamented Steve Marriott ???

Ah, it’s just a list. It’s there so you can come up with your own list of singers they left off and harrumph off feeling all superior.

It’s incomplete. It’s subjective (since when was anything in Rolling Stone anything but?). It’s selected more in the interest of style than true substance.

But it’s a helluva lot of fun.

Send in the omissions you come up with, and we’ll make up a "100 Not Quite Greatest Singers of All Time" and post it in an upcoming D.D.

More later … — MM